Finding out who your stakeholders are is foundational to a good communications strategy. You know someone is a stakeholder if they are affected or can have an effect on your business or organization. That’s a pretty broad statement, and covers a lot of people so this is why mapping and prioritizing your stakeholders is an important exercise. The kicker here is that there is no definitive list of stakeholders to get you started.
This makes identifying them a bit more challenging. Each organization is entirely different from the types of stakeholders to the extent of their reach. It is also a list that constantly changes depending on your objectives and the growth of your organization.
Questions for identifying stakeholders
There are many models for identifying and analyzing stakeholders and here we are going to break it down into a few questions that you can use to get you started on making a comprehensive list that funnels different stakeholders into different functional groups.
1. Who enables or allows your organization to function autonomously?
These could be regulatory agencies, governments, investors, stockholders and people that are fundamental to the resources your company needs to do business. Sometimes they are people or organizations that contribute to your funding or even the way your organization is run.
Examples: investors, board of directors, government agencies, stockholders, elected officials, property owners
2. Who is directly involved with the input and the output of the organization?
Starting thinking about your employees, your suppliers, and the people that work to produce what it is you offer. All of these people are important stakeholders the same as the people and organizations that consume what you offer like your customers.
Examples: employees, unions, suppliers, manufacturers, customers, evangelists, wholesalers, patients, volunteers, users, contributors, agencies, consultants
3. Who has a common interest in your organization or industry?
Sometimes people care about what you say because it makes an impact on your industry or ecosystem. Perhaps these people rely on companies like yours to make a living or maybe they are your own competitors. They may not be directly involved with your organization, but they are still stakeholders nonetheless.
Examples: competitors, journalists, influencers, suppliers, employee families, the communities where you operate, professional societies and associations, industry experts and thought leaders
When making a list like this, it is good to brainstorm with people from different parts of your organization. This ensures that you don’t get a one-sided or siloed answer to your stakeholder question.
The questions above should give you a working list of stakeholders. From there you should begin to deepen your understanding of them into more specific groups based on key characteristics. These are things like demographics, interests, and location.
Marking your stakeholders with key characteristics will make it easier to decide how and when to interact with them. This can be done in a spreadsheet by creating extensive columns that map out attributes and characteristics.
If that sounds tedious, there are also specialized tools like a CRM that can make it miles easier. Contact management tools like these help you centralize and organize your stakeholder contact information in a more dynamic way than a spreadsheet.
In Prezly, for example, your contacts are automatically enriched with information that makes categorizing your stakeholders easy. From there you can create dynamic segments based on filters for things like location, job title, and even interactions with your past campaigns.
After you have identified your stakeholders, your next step is to analyze their impact and influence in order to prioritize them and identify opportunities. Without a comprehensive list of stakeholders, you won’t be able to understand the full potential your organization has to make a big impact.